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Tue, 28 Jan 2020 16:29 GMT

UK Musicians Brace for Brexit Disharmony

Media & Culture

7Dnews London - AFP

Wed, 20 Mar 2019 17:31 GMT

Classical musicians based in Britain fear a disorderly Brexit divorce could threaten their European livelihood and stunt the development of potential maestros, AFP reported on Wednesday March 20th.

With Britain scheduled to leave the EU in just over a week, viola player Aliye Cornish told AFP she was particularly concerned because she is due to start a European tour in Spain on March 30th.

Like many classical musicians in Britain, Cornish spends months every year working in the EU. Their concern is that bureaucratic uncertainty will mean missing out on jobs.

Paul Smith, co-founder of the world-renowned Voces8 vocal ensemble, said Brexit was a central topic in discussions with promoters. "There's so much planning that goes into taking a group of musicians into Europe," he said.

"After March 30th, we don't know if the HMRC form will be valid, we don't know if we will need passports for instruments, we don't know if we will need work permits,” said Cornish.

Risk of red tape

Musicians may have to prove that their instruments do not contain endangered materials, throwing up the prospect of lengthy custom checks post-Brexit. "The worry is once you leave a common rule book,” Cornish said.

"If you're trying to get an orchestra from a rehearsal in London today to a concert hall in southern Spain tomorrow... you really don't want to be stuck at a border for four hours while people pore over every key of your harpsichord," Cornish added.

Smith, a baritone singer, composer and conductor, said he too was concerned about the potential consequences. "The longer we have to spend doing this (red tape) the less opportunity we have to do the core things we want to be doing -- performance and inspiring the next generation of young people to fall in love in music," he said.

Cornish used to play with the European Union Baroque Orchestra, which has relocated from Britain to Belgium due to Brexit.

He believes that young British musicians will miss out through not being able to play in EU projects.

"It gave me the chance to see countries I'd not been to before, to play music I didn't know, meet people I wouldn't have met otherwise and I came out of it knowing that was I wanted to do for the rest of my life."